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New law combats opioid crisis

Gov. Bruce Rauner took another step to strengthen the state’s effort to combat the opioid crisis by requiring medical professionals to take 3 hours of existing continuing education on how to safely prescribe opioid medications. The education requirement became law when he signed Senate Bill 2777 amending the Illinois Controlled Substance Act.

“We’re fighting this opioid crisis every day,” Rauner said. “It’s impacted too many families here in Illinois. We’ve given people who struggle with substance use more opportunities to get the help they need. We’ve started a 24-hour Helpline where they can get connected to treatment options. There’s a standing order for using opioid reversing Naloxone. We’ve boosted reporting requirements to our Prescription Monitoring Program to halt ‘doctor-shopping.’”

“Now, we want to make sure our doctors see potential signs of abuse and are cautious when prescribing opioid medications to those who need them, cutting back on the potential for addiction,” he continued.

The legislation was championed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

“This law ensures that medical professionals will obtain valuable education while still preserving their ability to use judgment and treat patients appropriately,” said IDFPR Secretary Bryan A. Schneider.

Impacted professions that hold a separate controlled substance license include: Physicians, Podiatric Physicians, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, Physician Assistants, Dentists, Clinical Psychologists, Optometrists, and Veterinarians.

“Medical professionals who prescribe and dispense controlled prescription drugs are the first line of defense for patients who rely on them. Continuing medical education is critically important for those affected by the prescribing of controlled substances,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian M. McKnight, Chicago Field Division.

An estimated 11 million Americans have misused opioids in the past year, approximately 1.9 million Americans are addicted to opioids, and 4 out of 5 heroin users started out on prescription opioids

“This law along with the Department’s adoption of the Federation of State Medical Board’s Guidelines on the Use of Opioids in the Treatment of Chronic Pain in Administrative Rule (which became effective July 6) is a vital part of efforts to educate prescribers and is in line with the initiatives set forth by the Governor’s Opioid Prevention and Intervention Task Force,” said Jessica Baer, IDFPR Division of Professional Regulation Director. “The misuse of prescription opioids has become prolific and vastly contributed to the current epidemic Illinois faces.”

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